Ever keen to copy all-things American, it seems that the Met Office is now giving names to the wind – more specifically, to whatever stormy waifs and tempestuous urchins blow in from the Atlantic. But is this not the very kind of situation that the post of poet laureate was created to serve ? We can hardly go labelling the weather as any old Tom, Dick, or Harry, or indeed in these equally opportune times, as Tilly, Dolly, or Hetty. No, the wind is something to be respected, admired, and honoured with a name of suitable gravitas – the recent Storm Freya is definitely along the right lines, but the preceding Storm Eric sounds about as dangerous a petulant teenager. Any poet worth their couplets would have chosen Erebos, Edric, or even Ebenezer.
This week’s Workshop was a gas, starting with Pat Francis’ imagining of the Celts who were driven out by the Saxons, and Niall Cassidy feasting his senses on a newborn, followed by Anne Furneaux filling her parlour with the best brics and finest bracs. John Hurley has had an American relative descend on him, and Daphne Gloag has been planting the seeds of the months from a pomegranate, while Peter Francis recalled his father with foreboding. For Doig Simmonds, inheritance is all in the genes, while Owen Gallagher thinks it’s in his parents’ language, and Martin Choules has been listening to the weather report.
In Sir John’s time when a genuine need for a poet was required to christen a wind of change, all Percy Shelley could come up with was ‘West’. And for all that his Ode blusters against convention and blasts for revolution, it puffs-up the importance of the Poet as the only one who can blow up a storm. But the Reform Act was still over a decade away, long after his own breath had so tragically ceased, and brought on not by Byronic fury, but the politicians’ hot air.